Study reveals how SARS virus hijacks host cells

August 22, 2013

UC Irvine infectious disease researchers have uncovered components of the SARS coronavirus – which triggered a major outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002-03 – that allow it to take over host cells in order to replicate.

This insight is critical for a full understanding of any outbreaks caused by such viruses and may prove beneficial in the development of therapies not only for human coronavirus infections but for other pathogenic illnesses as well. Study results appear online in the July/August issue of mBio.

Megan Angelini, a graduate student in Professor Michael Buchmeier's laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry at UC Irvine, and colleagues found that three proteins in the SARS coronavirus – nsp3, nsp4 and nsp6 – have the ability to hijack a host cell's internal membranes and utilize them to make more virus.

"Understanding how the virus uses the to reproduce itself could lead to potential therapies for these kinds of pathogens," said Buchmeier, who is also deputy director of the Pacific Southwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases at UC Irvine.

Additionally, he said, since membrane rearrangement is a tactic employed by all known positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses, including those responsible for polio and dengue fever, this work adds to that body of knowledge.

Although the majority of infections caused by coronaviruses in humans are relatively mild, the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003 and the emergence last fall of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus highlight their ability to potentially infect millions around the globe.

More information: mbio.asm.org/content/4/4/e00524-13

Related Stories

Saudi Arabia confirms 2nd case of SARS-like virus

November 5, 2012

(AP)—Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry has confirmed that a second person in the kingdom has contracted a new respiratory virus related to SARS, bringing to three the number of those sickened by it in the Gulf region in recent ...

Death toll from SARS-like virus hits 27

May 29, 2013

The global death toll from a SARS-like virus has risen to 27, the World Health Organization said Wednesday after three patients died in hard-hit Saudi Arabia and another in France.

Saudi declares new death from MERS virus

June 24, 2013

A Saudi man has died from the MERS virus, bringing the kingdom's death toll from the SARS-like infection to 34, the ministry of health said on Monday.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.